From 27 June until 22 July, our friends and family from our brother school in Tonga, Tupou College were here to help us celebrate our Sesquicentenary.
We tried our best to match the hospitality that has been shown to us over the last three years when we have been guests at Tupou College during our Service Learning and U15 Rugby tours. We have enjoyed immense generosity and care from our Tongan host families.
During their stay, the Tupou touring party were looked after by the Tongan community in Sydney, Canberra, Griffith and Melbourne and by many Newington families and staff members who, with open arms, took them into their homes and hosted them during their stay. In return, the Tupou College brass band and choir performed at many community fundraising events and almost literally “blew the roof off” at many of the Sesquicentenary celebrations.
Within the first week, the Tupou College first XV team and coaches, accompanied by Mr Quince and Mr Gill, went to an exclusive NSW Waratahs training session. The following week all 90 Tupou staff and students were given free tickets to see Newington versus Trinity College’s AJ Rae Curtain Raiser game at ANZ Stadium. This was a new experience and all of the touring party loved it.
Tupou College also played a number of games against the College’s own team as well as Sydney Grammar’s First XV. We thank Sydney Grammar for hosting Tupou College and for generously gifting the team a set of balls, cones and drink bottles.
Tupou College’s First XV defeated Newington’s 3rd XV 53-0 in a tough encounter. Tupou College played in jerseys donated by Randwick Rugby club and it was quite awesome to see the Tongan Haka performed on the Johnson Oval before the match.
Sunday 14 July saw Tupou College formally welcomed as part of a combined Boarders’ Chapel and Welcoming Chapel Service and they filled three hundred seat venue with an extraordinary rich sound with the performances by their Brass Band, Choir and Staff Choir. The service was a collaborative effort by Rev. David Williams and Rev. Dr Fisi’ihoi Mone. This was followed by a huge feast for in excess of 300 people in Centenary Hall, hosted by Newington.
Following the Chapel service Newington families and teachers provided billets for 90 students and teachers in their homes for the first week of term. Many great memories were created for our friends from Tupou College.
This is best summed up by Terri and Alister McConnell, one of the billet families.
“As a family we all enjoyed sharing as much as we could around Sydney and our local area, we only wish the time spent together could have been longer! On our last night together when Feleti asked to say “a speech” there wasn’t a dry eye in the house, including Feleti. They are such beautiful people! It is hard to believe how much he touched our hearts in the few days we were together.”
On Tuesday 16 July, Tupou College’s Marching Band opened our Founders Day celebrations at 8am and could be heard all the way down Stanmore Road. Rev. Dr Fisi’ihoi Mone gave a speech and Tupou Choir and brass band performed during the Thanksgiving service. Following our assembly the Marching Band performed an exceptionally choreographed medley of well-known songs on Johnson Oval. The repertoire included music from the Lion King, The Boy from Oz and Rocky. It had the whole school smiling, clapping and talking about it for days afterwards.
On Wednesday Tupou College toured Sydney Harbour followed by an impromptu performance on the steps of the Sydney Opera House to a pleasantly surprised and very appreciative audience. This was followed by a lunch donated by the Papapetros family café Marketa in Town Hall Arcade as they went into rehearsal at The Sydney Town Hall for Founders Concert that evening.
Tupou College had prepared a standout performance for the second half of Founders Concert. Dressed all in white, they performed a brass piece, and a choral number before singing in the combined schools, campuses and staff choir in the finale piece: Parry’s I Was Glad.
The students at Wyvern Campus and our sister school MLC Burwood were the next to meet our Tupou College friends. During lunch, the brass band entertained MLC staff and students and this was reciprocated with a sausage sizzle for the boys.
On their last days at Newington, the Tupou College First XV were coached by Director of Rugby, Tim Rapp and Manu Sutherland from the Wallabies Gold Squad and Brad Gill, Newington First XV Coach. Tupou College were presented with a new scrum sled by Randwick Rugby, Trinity Grammar School and Newington College Rugby Association afterward.
On their final official day at Newington the Tupou Choir visited our Lindfield campus where they filled up on a sweet food, played touch-football and handball and played a big part in the Chapel Service delivered by Rev. Peter Morphew.
The final farewell ceremony on Johnson Oval led by the Newington College Cadet Unit saw the Marching Band perform for the last time. Rev. Dr Fisi’ihoi Mone’s gave an empowering, emotional, and heartfelt farewell speech that in the true Tongan spirit showed their gratitude and humility. Tupou College also gifted Newington College two extraordinary traditional Tongan Tapa’s that marked Newington’s Sesquicentenary along with gifts for the Cafeteria staff, the Headmaster and Mr Quince.
This tour would not have been possible without the support of Ken Grover from Gulliver Sport Travel who organised all travel arrangements at cost price to accommodate our touring party.
Head of Fletcher House, Tupou College Tour Co-ordinator
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